Friday, 10.20.17 / 10:24 pm CT
Photo: David Dudich
Returning to the NYTEX Sports Centre for the first time since the 2017 Division Finals, the IceRays fell into an early hole they fell just shy of climbing out of, and dropped a 4-2 decision against the Lone Star Brahmas.
It only took 4:46 before the Brahmas drew first blood. Ryan Orgel, who had a tremendous amount of success at NYTEX Sports Centre last season while in Wichita Falls, redirected a point shot past Chad Veltri to give the Brahmas a 1-0 lead. The goal came on Lone Star’s first power play of the evening, which was assessed to Michal Steinocher for roughing.
Just 1:38 later, Drew Lennon intercepted the puck in the neutral zone. In the middle of an IceRays line change, Lennon marched into the Corpus Christi zone and whipped the puck over to Chase Pletzke. The rookie beat Veltri to score his first goal as a Brahma and extend Lone Star’s lead.
Late in the opening period, Aidan Spellacy caught the Rays after a neutral zone turnover. He motored past a winded Trevor Wilhelm and fired a shot past Veltri to triple the Brahmas’ edge.
As has been the case all season, the IceRays tipped the scales in the second period and substantially improved as the game wore on. At 27:05, CJ Regula was cross-checked into the Corpus Christi net by Justin Addamo. Regula was slow to get up, but he drew a five-minute major penalty to give the Rays an opportunity to chip away at their deficit.
Denied by the left post, the crossbar, and a miraculous save by Mitchell Gibson, Matt Acciaioli was stumped in every imaginable way. Despite a convincing power play, the Rays did not convert.
The third period has—far and away—yielded the most offense for the IceRays this season. At 48:36, Regula sprung Brendan Miller on a shorthanded breakaway. The IceRays Captain fired a shot inside the left post to finally sneak a shot past Gibson and put the Rays on the board.
Having found some life late in regulation, the Rays would end up doubling the Brahmas in third period shots. Unfortunately, they conceded an empty-net goal to Michael Montambault to ice the game. Blake Coffey scored a late consolation goal on a power play to make the score 4-2.
Veltri made a strong recovery after the first period, making 17 of a possible 20 saves. Unfortunately, he was charged with his first loss in four starts all the same. Gibson earned his sixth victory of the season, denying 17 of 19. The IceRays and Brahmas will rematch tomorrow night at NYTEX Sports Centre. The game will be streamed at The Exchange Watch Party on 224 N. Mesquite St. in Corpus Christi. All fans are welcome to attend. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 pm CT.